The always positive 1978 World Champion and former ASP Director Rabbit Bartholomew talks about how the waves have been in his hood, Parko, coaching and the approaching Legends trip that he is hosting aboard the luxurious Haira in The Maldives for The Perfect Wave.
Hey Rabbit what have you been up to over summer 2012/13?
Rabbit – I got to see the World Title showdown at Pipe then enjoyed the Parko celebrations, the Snapper Club Champs day/night and surfing with my kids. There was super fun waves over Christmas and for much of the school holidays and my kids surfed up a storm. Also checked out the Hurley High Performance Centre when my son Jaggar participated in the Bede Durbidge Surf Camp. It was all really cool.
How have the waves been?
Rabbit – The waves were awesome until recently. A couple nice swells off cyclones way out near Fiji, especially when they dropped down into the zone straight off SE Qld/ Northern NSW. Really clean long range swells that lasted over a week each. That was the highlight, the banks were all primed, groomed to near perfection. Even though it is very crowded around the Goldy during the chrissy hols there were so many waves that everyone got their share.
Looks like the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Oswald did the banks no favours?
Rabbit – After those clean groundswells from deep in the Coral Sea then Tasman Sea we had Oswald smash us. It turned into a rain depression with the low pressure system crawling down the coast, just inland. That brought tons of moisture in from the ocean and the winds ahead of the system were the equivalent of a Grade 1 or 2 cyclone. Totally wrecked a lot of the banks. We hate those systems, we just want 3-6′ surf these days because in the old days when Snapper’s banks got destroyed it would create the insane cyclone bank at Kirra, but now we just get the destruction. Snapper has a deep hole, there is tons of sand missing from Froggies, it will take a miracle to recover in time for the Quikky Pro. Bit of a bummer, there are a few other banks around, Off the Wall at D/Bah and Greenmount, but they are no substitute for the awesome Snapper bank.
Tell us a little more about your unique plans on your first legends trip in May/June to the Maldives on the Haira?
Rabbit – I have heard such great things about the Haira, what a boat! I haven’t been to the Maldives, I have had a few trips to Mentawais and Telos Islands and have always wanted to surf the Maldives. To go on such a luxurious vessell, to be able to flit around from spot to spot, wherever it’s happening, that’ll be great. I guess I’m not looking for the gnarly reef breaks these days and Maldives sounds just the ticket.
Sounds like an amazing opportunity for fans/surfers to learn from a former world champion/ASP director in a perfect surfing environment?
Rabbit – Surfing with my kids has helped me to maintain a respectable level of surfing and fitness, although I must admit I have got a little fussy with what I surf in. You probably won’t see me put in the hours in onshore junk but on my last boat trip with Deano, Koby and a bunch of hellmen I surfed for 6-8 hours a day, so if it’s perfect I will definitely put in the hours and surf pretty hard.
I read your epic autobiography years back and then read Kong’s over the hols – my how things have changed on tour – where can you see the tour being in another decade or so?
Rabbit – I think we are on the cusp of a really dynamic period for the tour. The new ownership of ASP will probably result in removing the emphasis on the surf industry underwriting the whole tour plus the surf salaries plus their respective global marketing campaigns. So at its best the tour could see rich events with non generic sponsors while the surf companies could go back to doing super cool projects with the athletes. At the moment it is a bit winner take all, the superstars get all the money, hopefully in the coming years the tour can benefit from big money events and more surfers can make a living out of pro surfing. There are so many thousands of hot kids who want to live the dream; it’s a bit tough right now if you are on the fringe.
Bugs what would be your personal tips on what prospective crew should bring on The Maldives trip both in terms of quiver and frame of mind?
Rabbit – I think you can bring a more laid back frame of mind to the Maldives. It is still reef breaks but it seems the swells are consistently 3-5′. I would think throw a 6’2″ or 6’4″ as your short board then something in the 6’6″ to 6’10” range in case it gets a little stronger or you want to cruise and really be on top of your act in the line-up. Plus a back-up board just in case I break mine.
Finally, what other plans have you got for 2013? Obviously still surfing a lot, but what are you up to with your high performance coaching, commentary etc?
Rabbit – There is definitely some exciting stuff on the horizon. I intend to commentate at Hurley events, I particularly love doing the Trestles event, the waves are great and Hurley always has an awesome commentary team. Also, the Hurley team has become so dynamic, what with John John Florence, Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino plus a host of other great surfers, including Carissa Moore, joining the existing team. We are having a big get together just prior to the Quikky Pro. Barton Lynch and I are there for any of the surfers, we have both won tours and it really is a big campaign to put it together over 10 months and in all kinds of conditions, climates and environments. I just want to offer my assistance, to be in their corner for a few tips or some mentoring advice.